News Article

Talking Point: StreetPass - Is Silent Communication the Future?

Posted by James Newton

We dive into the 3DS's automatic multiplayer

The 3DS is loaded with software right out of the box, from Face Raiders to Augmented Reality games, but it's the console's StreetPass functionality that Nintendo is banking on turning the console into a part of daily life for its owners.

If you haven't been using StreetPass, you're missing out on some of the most interesting technology the 3DS has to offer. Here's a quick guide to what it can do, and what it all means.

How to Get Started with StreetPass

Nintendo's philosophy for the 3DS is "Carry Around, Affect Each Other and Something New Every Day", and StreetPass is key to that goal.

The idea behind StreetPass is that users never turn their console off, only putting it into Sleep Mode by closing the machine's lid. When the wireless switch is on, the 3DS will continue to emit a wireless signal to search out other 3DS users in the nearby area: if it finds a console, it will communicate with it automatically without any user input. A green notification LED will let the user know if the machine has found anyone.

To start up StreetPass, you'll need a Mii character, so head into the Mii Maker. Next, load up the StreetPass Mii Plaza and the game will guide you through setting up the system.

Once you're all set up, all you need to do is place your machine in Sleep Mode and carry it about on your person wherever you go: your 3DS does the rest!

If you're popular, this could be you.

What's The Point?

Well, good question. It's all well and good seeking other consoles out, but what does the machine do when it finds them?

The console contains two built-in StreetPass games, known as StreetPass Quest (Find Mii in North America) and Puzzle Swap. The latter is a simple jigsaw-like affair that rewards players with impressive 3D scenes from classic Nintendo franchises, but it's StreetPass Quest that offers the best incentive for players to carry their machines around everywhere.

StreetPass Quest is a simplistic role playing game that sees players joining forces with the characters they meet on the road to free a King or Queen, but you won't play for the plot; you play for the promise of sweet, sweet Nintendo hats.

Completing certain rooms on your way to the top of the tower rewards you with Nintendo-themed hats to put on your StreetPass Mii. Sadly they don't carry over to Mii-enabled games like Pilotwings Resort , but your Mario cap-wearing Mii will appear in the console of any 3DS owner you pass by.

Making your way to the top of the tower requires equal parts luck and skill: each character's favourite colour defines their magical ability, with certain parts all-but impossible to pass unless you have a character of a specific colour. Of course Nintendo understands it's not easy for everyone to make StreetPass hits, so you can spend your Play Coins to unlock a randomly coloured low-level character.

StreetPass Quest is the clearest implementation of Nintendo's "Carry Around, Affect Each Other and Something New Every Day" ethos: if you get stuck in a particular room, just keep carrying your console around every day and you might meet somebody to help you out. The game was no doubt designed with such romantic ideas in mind, and the serendipitous nature of the game is Nintendo to the core.

The simplest explanation of how StreetPass works.

But Is It The Future?

That's the question. Considering the 3DS Friends List is severely lacking, StreetPass is an interesting way to expand the console's multiplayer features without anyone really realising it. Whereas the Wii excels at pulling people around one TV to game together, it's not easy on a handheld, so Nintendo has essentially created a multiplayer system where everyone plays separately, at different times and in different places, with just a brief meeting tying them together.

The other major reason behind the system's StreetPass functions is to turn 3DS players into advocates: as the 3D effect is impossible to experience without seeing the console itself, Nintendo is urging owners to mobilise their machines. Whether this system will increase sales remains to be seen, but if it helps to spread information and understanding Nintendo will consider half the battle won.

While Quest is a neat built-in RPG, if other developers don't build on this start it'll just be a quirky freebie. Out of the 3DS launch games, half a dozen use StreetPass to exchange data silently, from lap times in Ridge Racer 3D to figurines in Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition, but the real proof of StreetPass's enduring appeal will come with how it's used in future titles. As the 3DS-owning population increases, so too must the list of reasons to carry the console around: major first-party titles like Animal Crossing and Mario Kart have to advance the feature, and we'll likely hear more about these titles — and more — at E3 in early June.

What level of success have you had with StreetPass — have you achieved a lot of hits, are you still waiting for your first? What do you think is the future for the system? Is it really an innovative multiplayer solution or just a clever way to get gamers to show their consoles off? Join the discussion in the comments below.

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User Comments (82)



Corbs said:

Sorry, I'm too busy keeping the wi-fi turned off so the system doesn't crash on me. Maybe if they find the time to update the system and fix the black screen error I can get back to getting StreetPass hits.



grumblebuzzz said:

I've only found one other 3DS owner in my area but I do pass by her twice a week and everytime I see that little green light, I geek out a little inside.



jdkipfer said:

I haven't met a single person in the whole 25 days I have had it. And I do go places.



y2josh said:

If it were a cell phone it would work better. Not many people pack their pricey handheld around.



NintenDude97 said:

I have 3 Streetpasses already; the first hit in Target, the second in the mall, and the third one in Earth Fare shopping with my mom.



iphys said:

I had one Streetpass encounter on March 31st, and none since. The one I had was great, but I wasn't expecting to go so long without one after the first.



Spoony_Tech said:

I've gotten a few street pass hits out side of my co-worker. 6 I believe. I really wish more people would carry theirs around with them. I was in game stop the other day and was asked by one of the employees if I had a 3ds. I said yes it's right here. He was ticked because he left his at home as did the other employee there. It could have been two more hits for me.

On a side note I've experienced some problems with street pass. So far that I know of my system has had problems getting street pass hits from my co-worker. The other day we were in the same spot with our 3ds inches away from each other and no street pass. We tried everything to get it to work. Turning both systems off and back on. Even at the same time and that didn't work. It got really frustrating. Went to setting to switch it off that didn't work either. Then finally about 9 hours later it happened. Its not the first time something weird like that has happened either. The previous times we encountered each other he got mine but I didn't get his for about 3 hours later. I really hope another update can fix this since I don't really know if I've missed any one due to this problem!



Bankai said:

I've had over 40 street passes. It's a great little feature, and really does encourage me to carry the console around with me, but at the same time, it's pretty much exclusive to people that use public transport, and live in busy cities.



Samholy said:

i got a couple of streetpasses, some i met 2 times. (6hits, 2 times the same guy)
but judging from its price, not everyone is willing to carry it around. again, people carry around their iphones, so i dont why why it wouldnt work more in the future.
But they really should put a great use out of the streetpass with future games. My street fighter 3DS figure thing is rather silly and not really interesting enough.
Put a game like dragonquest 9 and their map trading system and you got a winning title for streetpass. i do hope developers will get innovative in their streetpass feature. We want more valuable bonuses with streetpass, because they are a rare thing unless youre in a huge city like Tokyo or New York. Even roaming around Montreal didnt give me more than 6 hits since the console's launch.



IronMan28 said:

I had two in one day, but I don't have my 3DS right now. I'm getting it back soon; I love the StreetPass though, I think it's actually encouraged me to take my system out more (that's just me though).



WiiLovePeace said:

I haven't had my first street pass meeting yet, though that's probably because I don't have a 3DS haha



ZueriHB said:

I have the system since launch, and I didn't believe StreetPass would work here in Switzerland. But behold, I have amassed 71 hits with 32 different people. I just finished StreetPass Quest for the first time yesterday. But sadly many hit's don't give me new puzzle pieces.



ZueriHB said:

@7. Tech101: I have that problem too, we where three 3DS users, all got mine, but I didn't get one of the others, not even after 1-2 hours. Resets, re-activating wireless etc didn't work. Hope they fix it with the next Update.



Aviator said:

Very nice read James.

I haven''t had any hits yet, though, I have yet to actually try to get hits. I'm sure if I was to venture into the city with my 3DS in tow, I would get a few. Someday I will.



daznsaz said:

ive got 2 other miis from shop staff at gamestation used one to help me in quest havent had any on the street yet but give it time i think



sgotsch said:

You totally forgot to mention that the music-channel supports streetpass, too! It generates charts and compares music tastes (at least via the release dates). But so far only 2 of 10 Streetpassers made use of it, just because nobody mentions it!



ReifuTD said:

I got my first Streetpass yesterday and I had my 3DS for three weeks. But I didn't take it to work unless I have plans on going where else after work. I took it dow with me at the used game shop and got a hit there.

His profile says that he met 19 people and streetpassed them 73 times. So theres people around.

I am planning to go to the mall today and see what happens.



triforceofcourage said:

I've only tagged my sister 3 times.
Haven't done a lot of walking around in majorly public places though. I think I'll get a few when i take a trip to Boston in May.
It's still early in the 3DS' life, so once more games using it come out (hopefully) there will be more purchased consoles and more incentive to take it with you. I'm hopeing for Ghost data trades in Mariokart3DS, and Item trades in Animal crossing. I also think that friend codes should be exchanged during streetpass. As that would be a good way to start up some online matches for SSFIV and more upcoming games. Hopefully we see some better friend code messageing system come about soon. As well as more space, and streetpass shares.

Hear our requests Nintendo! A system update with added interaction feature would be greatly appreciated!



Wildvine53 said:

I've gotten 1 hit so far, while I was driving! It was really exciting to see that little green light flashing.



Wisconsin1 said:

I have 13 streetpasses, only two are people I have passed while out and about. I cheat I go into Target, Gamestop, and Best Buy and get tagged from the displayed 3DS.



JeanLuc_Vaycard said:

I have had zero success with streetpass. I don't understand. I live in a busy city and have gone to a few gamestops but not one freakin hit.



MasterGraveheart said:

I've already got four hits. One from the Red Wings game, one from the mall, one from work, and one from the Tigers game.

...and one girl!



Linkuini said:

I think this feature's working. There's three people I pass every day at school with StreetPass, I met seven others on a visit to WPI, and one other at Becker College. That seems pretty huge considering how young the system is. With "Tag Mode" on some regular DS games, I never got any hits at all except at PAX East. The increased ease-of-use makes a clear difference.

As a side note, I think the two included games are equally good. As I read in an Iwata Asks interview, the idea is that Puzzle Swap rewards you for meeting new people in new places and Find Mii rewards you for meeting the same people multiple times. So the people I meet regularly at school are leveled up from meeting them repeatedly in Find Mii, but they never have any new puzzle pieces. The people I met at WPI were too weak to do much in Find Mii, but gave me Pikmin and Zelda-themed panels that I didn't have before.

I just personally prefer Find Mii for its cute RPG trappings and surprisingly cool soundtrack.



Linkuini said:

You found a girl, MasterGraveheart? Yeah, right! It was probably a dude using a girl Mii!



Zach said:

I've gotten two hits on the train and one hit while on my college campus. They're all guys, and they're all playing either Pokemon Black or Pokemon White.



Malkeor said:

Not a single person yet....silly town in the hicks...maybe I should go to Atlanta

And Corbie I dunno if it's just where you live but that only happened to me twice, and never again for about 2 and a half weeks now xD



suburban_sensei said:

Just took my 3DS to Target to grab a few items, and to my surprise I got a Streetpass visit. Was very exciting to pop open the 3DS and see it there! I will definitely start bringing it with me whenever I go to stores or the mall.



ReifuTD said:


Yeah, I do that, I use a girl Mii because she's my Good Luck charm. one my Wii I've done Mii's of my favorite characters. I like to play games with a Mii I named after a Rabbit girl I call Tejina. The name means magic/Art of Slight of Hand. That and her being a rabbit just seems like a good character to use when playing a video game.



Glade said:

Stupid trinidad... Very few people will buy a 3ds cuz there 2 stuck up on playing FFIA on their PSPs.... And those that buy will probably keep their wireless turned off :/



Marioman64 said:

im in college so i pass by these two people pretty consistantly. both of them are level 7 heroes in the Find Mii because of it :3 . I also pass by maybe 1 or 2 people a day, then again i'm kind of an introvert that plays games all day in my room.
as for the puzzle piece thing, I spend play points on pieces and I dont think anyone else does because I pass them and it says no new puzzle pieces. rawr



Sylverstone said:

Because of the StreetPass NYC group, my StreetPass hits have increased from each one of their meetups.

We had another one yesterday, and it was pretty cool. We also went to the Nintendo World Store where tons of people were all over the 3DS units in place (and their own) checking their StreetPass Mii Plazas, and playing Find Mii.

It was a glorious sight.

Also, for anyone interested in a good read, here's a write-up I did of the first meetup:



FluttershyGuy said:

There isn't going to be much future to it unless people: 1. Read enough of the instructions to know about Street Pass, 2. Can figure out how to turn it on, 3. Remember to/are brave enough to take their 3DS with them places.

I'm one of those in a fair-sized city that goes to busy places with my 3DS all the time, and has yet to have one hit. And that's from visits to crowded places.

I know it has such potential, but it's been so disappointing so far. I think games are going to have to give greater incentives to go after Street Passes, or nobody's going to venture outside their home with their 3DS. Then, people like me who've gone almost a month now without their first will get discouraged and stop taking theirs with them. Not sure if people in my area aren't getting the 3DS (local Wal-Mart was fully stocked with them last three times I've been), they're afraid of it getting stolen, or don't know about it/aren't using it right (GameStop employee the other day didn't even know what Street Pass was rolls eyes).



triforceofcourage said:

I've talked two of my friends into getting 3DS'! So I can streetpass them regularly, and I have to say, there is something special that runs through you when you get a streetpass! It's a giddy little feeling.

(lol at me thinking I got my first "real" streetpass then realizing it was just my sister again!)



Supremeist said:

I kept my 3DS on in the car while driving to a friends house. I picked up someone named Paula on Streetpass and it was pretty cool. I can't wait until Summer to start traveling and see how many people I can get on StreetPass!



Stine said:

I've had exactly one hit. The dude's name was GameStop and he tried to convince me to come to their shop and buy some games. Of course, I had already done that. Wish I could get a hit from a normal person, and not just a 3DS from some shop, though.



Minjo_Master said:

I've met just one person, and I think this is one of those things that really works a lot better in Japan than over here. I suspect it'll pick up as the 3DS library does, and more people have the thing in the first place.



armoredghor said:

@y2josh only if they were carrying the same phones and were compatible with all others made by the same company. There are soo many types of phones out there.

This is going to be more effective over time. I expect to get 50 a day towards the end of the console lifespan. Not to many people buy these things at launch unless they're really hardcore obsessive.



JohnDoe123 said:

I've gotten 3 hits, not including my friends. I've brought it pretty much everywhere, but only turn wireless on when I'm at Malls or Wal-Mart or somewhere that might have streetpass users. I actually find myself wanting to go out more just to get more streetpass hits. I am kind of dissapointed that many people don't fill out their Mii information on Streetpass, it seems like they aren't using it themselves. They also have very few puzzle pieces. I don't like how Streetpass Quest wants you to pass people multiple times, though.



Stuffgamer1 said:

@LegendofPasta99: You've got a Zelda panel? No fair! My brother and I both finished the Pikmin panel (which we both started with,) and haven't been able to figure out how to get another one.

I've gotten exactly one StreetPass aside from my brother (with whom I StreetPass regularly...we even change our Mii's colors to make better progress in Find Mii); it was in Costco, one week after 3DS launch. I've been in there with my 3DS several times since then, but no dice. I've also carried my 3DS around in the mall, but no luck there either.

I carry my 3DS with me every day at work...I work at a very busy Safeway, so the fact that I haven't gotten ANY StreetPasses there yet is very disappointing. I think that store employees with 3DS's are a great opportunity for StreetPassing, and everyone should keep that in mind as you go about your business.

Of course, I do have to admit that my area really isn't the best at picking up new gaming tech fast. Buncha cheap wads around here, to the point where used GBA continued showing itself to be a surprisingly big seller when I still worked at GameStop last year. I suppose more people will get their systems eventually, and I can only hope they'll take advantage of its features.

@sgotsch: That could be because most people don't actually USE the music player on the 3DS. I've never bothered to load it up at all...I keep my music on my phone and PSP.

Also, I love reading that some of you have had success StreetPassing while in the car! I'd been wondering if that would be possible, except maybe at traffic lights.



JoeDiddley said:

I work in a medium sized city & have had 7 hits so far, 2 from the same person. 1 from a co-worker. I mainly carry my 3DS around to amass play coins. I agree that unless future games like Animal Crossing make the most of the feature then most people wont realise it exists and everyone else will be disheartened by their lack of hits.



SunnySnivy said:

I think streetpass is really cool. I want to go out and leave my 3DS on now LOL.

I have no life.



Chris720 said:

I feel as if I'm the only one in my area with a 3DS. I haven't gotten a single hit yet, go into a really busy store, blip, nadda. StreetPass is probably preety pointless right now since not many people own one most likely or they don't know how to use it/turn it on.

I can't wait to a flashing green light.



Skotski said:

For all you people who can't get hits:
Is a nice lil' site to get us 3DSers hooked up.
I live in the LA area, and many of us have 3DSs, but it's hard to link up due to... well, basically how many people there are and how few percentage of us actually are walking around in the same areas. That nifty little site gives us a heads-up for meeting places.



emirblade said:

I have had 9 hits, And everytime I smile, such a simple, neat concept. Also, the only two street fighter figurine battles were cool too!



jerryo said:

yeah well with 400.000 that they sold as a first batch and the millions of people spread all over the kingdom it is hard to get hits. if there was such a place like akihabara etc where all the gamers hang out it would be great. Maybe in oxford street or e3 or certain video game stores etc definitely college or school.. . it will be easier to get new people this way.



Mowzle2 said:

I got my first two hits in Derby, UK, a few days ago, but the more I think about it, the more I think maybe that was from 3DS owning employees at Game or Gamestation (I visited both) as both their Miis had a Streetpass hit rate of about 40. That's the only way I can think they'd get so many hits, given the number I've had on trips to town. It's fun meeting the girl Mii on the street when walking my pup in Nintendogs and Cats, and I get a present from her every time we meet.



tripunktoj said:

Had 2 hits from different people in a popular gaming mall in my country, only for Mii plaza
Am I the only one that noticed (and uses) street pass for SF4 and Nintendo 3DS Sound?



Sakura_Moonlight2421 said:

Sadly there were only three hits and I met one person twice. T_T Sad to say it was a really annoying guy that had bother my friends in the past but I guess you can't be choosers of who the other owner is. But I haven't seen him since so my count as of April 1 is zero.



brandonbwii said:

Only two hits for me. My kid, obviously, and a toys r us employee of whom I passed twice.

I never say a function is the "future" because Nintendo never sees things that way. It's a neat feature that adds a fun little element for THIS generation. Things are rarely the "future" with Nintendo and I don't see Streetpass as something that will keep going. It's cool for now but before you know it all of us will be asking "what's next?" The same goes for motion controls. It's fun in some games, but its not "the future" necessarily. We could very well see "next future" when Cafe introduces some other innovation. Then someone else will introduce another innovation. Saying or asking if something is the future of gaming is a bit myopic in my opinion.



ReifuTD said:

Well like I said I went to the mall and got three new hits heres their stats

first off theres me with 4 tags and 4 people

A dude named Sleepy who I think works that the used music and game shop
79 Tags
20 People

40 Tags
16 People

sofie (Who I think is the Best Buy's store Demo)
2 Tags
3 People

I should make this it's own topic because with all the complaining of peopel not getting hits two of the 3 people I've met seems to have a good amount of hits for a sytem that's only for a few weeks.



b_willers said:

Dose anybody know the range street pass works over? Also I wonder if it would work if you were passing each other in a car. I have 7 hits so far but am now turning my system off to save the battery more.



Rapenzie said:

I don't know why people separate Face Raiders from Augmented Reality games. I know Nintendo is marketing the cards as Augmented Reality games but Face Raiders is one augmented reality game too. You don't really need a card to play this kind of games, but I think a lot of people are aware of that.



RedYoshi999 said:

When I get one I don't ever expect to get a hit unless I'm in a big city or on holidays. I don't think anyone in my town will be carrying around a 3DS, if they even have one. And I probably wouldn't carry around my pricey, bulky handheld either.



Rob_mc_1 said:

I'm keeping my Street Pass and Spot Pass disabled indefinitely. I find the street pass concept of transmitting and exchanging data without user input to be a security risk and the spot pass searching and connecting to any internet connection to be a bit too much like war driving for my liking.



Livetyswiretys said:

well guys when you live here you cant find no 1 ill tried but you have to go to capital city maybe to get some street pass hits



Stuffgamer1 said:

@b_willers: The system manual says the recommended wireless distance is with 98 feet, or 30 meters. Of course, that's assuming a straight line with no obstacles between you, but it's still quite a bit larger than the DS range.

Man, the people at my GameStop don't even have their own 3DS's yet. Jealous of all of you who are getting easy hits in game stores.



jerryo said:

expensive and bulky ? are you sure you're in the right blog community?

the first part depends on many things.
but bulky? come on! this is about the same size as lite or dsi in fact a tiny bit smaller than dsi! the only device that is smaller is PSPgo.



Dodger said:

I got one hit last week and actually got 4 yesterday at the mall. One of them was the Gamestop demo unit of course, but it's still a 3DS.



JohnDoe123 said:

I think Nintendo needs to advertise this more to get the word out and so more people actually use this.



MARl0 said:

Have never gotten a hit with streetpass, and I doubt I ever will. For most 3DS owners, it's a pretty useless feature outside of Japan or organized events.



TheAmazingRaccoon said:

big fat zero for me. Being in New Zealand I don't expect it to happen anytime soon. I may be the only person in the city that actually caries mine with me at the moment. I have been to all the shopping malls with no luck. I really hope that they don't make a cool game that is dependent on getting a streetpass to progress passed a point.



TeeJay said:

I've so far gotten 25 Streetpass Tags and 15 people in all in my Streetpass Plaza. I'm happy with the gaming population in my school. n_n



SunnySnivy said:

I live in the middle of nowhere (I am surrounded by cornfields) and I got one hit today. Hurrah!



Scarlet said:

I live in a major city and take my 3DS to work every day. It's always on and I haven't even got one hit.



Geminikitty said:

So, over the weekend I went to an anime convention in my city (Seattle) and I kept my 3DS on (because some guy tipped me off on it when I was like "hey you have a 3DS too!") and it was cool because I collected over 100 people in a day! (I would have collected more, except you have to check it often because it stops collecting after ten people) I love it, because now I have an army of people that remind me of the fun time I had. Cool feature!!!

The moral of this story is, go to places where a lot of gamers and nerds (hey, I'm including myself there!) congregate to really utilize the streetpass.



Bigrat said:

I have none so far. I live in a small town in Alaska where there aren't many people and no one has a 3DSother than me. Its not a village though, i would never get any if that was true. I am expecting more though as word gets out of the 3DS and more popular games like Super Mario, Mario Kart and OoT for the 3DS comes out. There are no nerdy places here other than a small college building. No game stores either, Radioshack maybe? I have that here.



Bigrat said:

I am too afraid to bring mine to school, I brought it a couple times but I'm too afraid it will be stolen. I can't just go buy another one. Too expensive!



Bigrat said:

YAY just found another person with a 3DS =) Another kid at my school, I'm surprised tthe two systems haven't come near each other yet.

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